Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Salmon BLT

A couple of weeks ago, Baltimore Snacker John mentioned that he wanted to experiment with tapioca maltodextrin and that he had ordered free samples from National Starch. I'm kinda fascinated by "molecular gastronomy" or whatever the kids are calling it today, so I decided to order some samples as well.

Tapioca maltodextrin is a modified food starch that can be used to turn liquified fat into a powder. While that might not seem like a useful trick, I think it's pretty nifty. My first attempt was powdered peanut butter - a half teaspoon of Jif creamy mixed into a couple of tablespoons of N ZORBIT M made a pale peanut butter-flavored powder...a powder that once in contact with liquid became itself liquid again. In other words, a spoonful of this stuff placed in the mouth changed from its powdered state back into peanut butter.

A foodie parlor trick.

Because I had a package of bacon in the fridge that needed to be cooked, I decided to mix bacon fat and tapioca maltodextrin. I was making salmon for dinner, so my first idea was to make a kind of deconstructed bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. The bacon part was easy - bacon fat + N ZORBIT = bacon powder. But what about the lettuce and tomato?

We had a couple of yellow tomatoes, but that seemed boring. I blanched, peeled, and chopped two of them and put them aside. Then I remembered the bag of sundried tomatoes I had recently acquired from Nuts Online. I figured I could use them to make a sauce, using a bit of acid to cut the richness of both the salmon and the bacon fat powder. The lettuce component was simple - a bit of salad, also dressed with acid.

Since BLTs also have mayo, I thought this might be a good opportunity to make the delicious yogurt sauce we enjoyed at Phillips a few weeks ago; their technique was also used to cook the salmon.

The end result wasn't pretty, but it was quite delicious. While I wanted the bacon powder (which tasted a whole lot like fried pork rinds) to be the star, the real showstopper was the sundried tomato vinaigrette which was rich and tangy and very tomatoe-y. Could make a delicious pasta sauce for the summer.

Recipes for most of the components follow.

Baked salmon - red quinoa - tomato vinaigrette - yogurt sauce
chopped yellow tomato - herb salad  - bacon fat powder
Salmon
10 oz salmon fillet
salt and pepper
2 oz butter
2 oz water

Preheat oven to 400F. Salt and pepper one side of salmon fillet. Lay in the bottom of a baking dish with sides that will fit the salmon and contain the liquid. Add the butter and water. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until desired doneness.

Sun-dried Tomato Vinaigrette

1/2 cup roughly chopped sundried tomatoes, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes and drained
1 teaspoon roughly chopped shallot
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch aleppo pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Put first 8 ingredients into the bowl of a food processor or blender and puree. Strain mixture into a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Bacon Powder

1 cup N-ZORBIT M tapioca maltodextrin
3 tablespoons bacon fat
salt and pepper to taste

Place N-ZORBIT into a large bowl. Drizzle over bacon fat. With a fork, stir well to combine - the starch should absorb all of the fat, if it doesn't, add more N-ZORBIT a teaspoonful at a time. Push through a sieve to achieve a fine powder. Cover and set aside.

Herbed Yogurt

1 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon chopped mint
1 teaspoon chopped basil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Salad

1 cup torn mixed greens (lettuce, arugula, mint, basil, spinach, your choice)
lemon juice
olive oil
salt and pepper

Toss greens with a squeeze of lemon and a light drizzle of oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Posted by theminx on Minxeats.com.